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I have had an unsatisfactory user experience this week with Marks & Spencer. I thought I would blog about it, as they are a fantastic UK company who have had bad press this week with latest financial results, in the current tough economic environment, with rumours of board room tension, difficult at all times.

Anyway, I offer my advice gratis and openly to Marc Bolland, CEO, as a digital goddess, and a 2nd generation customer. This social revolution is supposed to be personal as well as expert. (As I write my 81 year old Mum will be whizzing her way around M&S London Colney, as she has done every week for 60 odd years. She is also a devoted Manchester United supporter, and was completely delighted to receive an 80th birthday letter from Sir Alex Ferguson, which has pride of place on her kitchen wall). The 3rd generation, my son age 24, and daughter age 18, are not brand loyal to any retailers, but my daughter did bring a selection of M&S tea to her French Host Family this Gap year.

I received an email from M&S advising sale offers, and I clicked through on our iPad and bought a washable suit for my son, (who is fond of parties, and fed up with expensive dry cleaning bills in his first post graduate position). I love the click online and collect service, and I also use this frequently with John Lewis/Waitrose. The online purchasing experience was fine, and I happily clicked back into my email account to discover a 2nd email had arrived from M&S with 5 x loyalty points for this week. I immediately tried to amend my order to add them in, but there was no obvious way that I could do this, so I just sent an email to customer service asking them to add them in for me. I have not heard further, and my fall back position is to ask for a refund and start again when I pick up the items in store tomorrow. Not really a good user/customer experience.

Today I shopped in my local St. Albans store and bought £30.00 worth of items and checked out at the automatic counter (which was difficult as I brought my own bags and everything kept slipping off the small counter). I took out my iPhone to scan in the voucher code for the 3 x loyalty points for food, wine and flowers, only to discover that there was no way of doing this and I had not printed off the vouchers at home. I went to customer services to ask if they could do this for me, but they advised that they could not. I'm fairly sure that when I had a similar experience at Sainsbury's, their customer services desk did add in nectar points after purchases.

So, these are my 2 examples of poor digital/in store syncronisity for customers and users. I considered emailing customer services, but they offered only online or instore query prompts, and my query concerns not one or the other but combined seamless services, and as I have still not heard back from my 1st email, I am a little doubtful of the service quality. I know there will be a series of technical and management issues here, but working these through to provide a seamless good user experience is vital to continue to own customers across all distribution platforms.

Good luck Marc Bolland for your work in 2013, keeping customers loyal to the great British M&S brand across the generations, and with commercial developments, and let me know if you need any help!

Bernadette O'Reilly

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